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Fourth of July Events in the Borderland – KVIA

Fourth of July Events in the Borderland - KVIA

EL PASO, Texas- Areas across the borderland are celebrating the fourth of July in different ways.

Sunday night Las Cruces will hold an electric light parade at Apodaca park at 9 p.m.

On July 4, El Paso will have two parades on different parts of town.

On the westside, the parade will start at 9 a.m. at the Western Hills Methodist Church and will finish at Coronado High School. 

On the eastside, the parade will begin at 9 a.m. at Hanks High school and end at Album park. 

Wet ‘N’ Wild will also be hosting festivities beginning at 10 a.m. and their firework show will start at 9 p.m. 

Ascarate park will have an event at 2 p.m. where families can enjoy food trucks, swimming, and a firework show.

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Top 10 weather events across the Borderland – KVIA

Top 10 weather events across the Borderland - KVIA

EL PASO, Texas – In late January, the National Weather Service office in El Paso released their list of the Top Ten Weather Events for southern New Mexico and far west Texas. Meteorologist Joseph DeLizio curated the list on StoryMap. It features pictures, radar and satellite animations, and other interactive features. You can find the Top Ten list by clicking this link.

Joe Delizio, a NWS Meteorologist, said he and his fellow meteorologists “collectively came together and sort of put weather events in together and picked from there. We based it on sort of the societal impact, sort of the costs, the damage costs, and just how severe the weather event was.”

Number 10

Starting at number 10 is the Whitewater-Baldy Complex Fire that burned in May of 2012. The fire was responsible for burning almost 300,000 acres in the Gila Wilderness. It began on May 9th due to a lightning strike from a thunderstorm and became the largest wildfire in New Mexico history. ABC-7 spoke with Jerrell Shelley, who lives at the 916 Ranch with his family and was there at the fire. The 916 Ranch has a clear view of the section of the Gila National Forest that caught on fire.

“Just because the way the valley is here, the smoke settles in, and every single morning you couldn’t even see 100 yards because the smoke was so bad. The entire mountain range was on fire. You could see from as far as you could see from the west to the east, it was nothing but fire,” said Shelley.

The fire also caused evacuations of several nearby towns and burned more than a dozen buildings. The Whitewater-Baldy fire was not put out until late July.

Number 9

The next weather event is one that many would not remember or have a recollection of unless you were alive in the mid-1900s. It’s the tornado that struck the Grant County Airport, located about 20 miles southeast of Silver City. The tornado was small – the width was only 50 yards, but the damage was extensive.

In the 1950s, the Enhanced Fujita Scale did not exist, and instead, the Fujita Scale is how they rated tornadoes. This one was rated an F3 which meant the tornado had wind speeds from 158-206 mph. Today, a tornado of that strength would be measured anywhere from an EF3 to EF5. It caused an estimated $100,000 in damage, which would amount to $1 million today.

Number 8

Next is the May 22, 2014, dust storm that caused seven deaths. The I-10 corridor in New Mexico is known to experience dusty conditions during windy days or nearby thunderstorms. This car pileup occurred near Lordsburg, NM. Nearby thunderstorms kicked up outflow boundaries (downdraft winds that spread out in all directions from thunderstorms), picked up dust and led to a multi-car crash involving passenger cars and semi-trucks.

Number 7

Number 7 on the list is the March 13, 2019, damaging winds that impacted the entire Borderland but caused noticeable damage in Cloudcroft, NM. For the lowland areas, winds were gusting up to 70-80 mph, but up in the mountains, they were gusting even stronger – up to 107 mph! Cloudcroft saw many fallen trees that fell on homes and cars, and several were found uprooted and resting on the forest floor.

Number 6

The next weather event is from back in 2009. It is the hail the Borderland saw on September 19. Two different supercell thunderstorms let out large hailstones. A supercell thunderstorm has a well-defined updraft and downdraft that rotate around each other within the cloud. That is why individual supercells are so beautiful to photograph. 

Hailstones form when water droplets are pushed up to the top of a thunderstorm where it is below freezing. Large hailstones all start as small hailstones but become large in strong thunderstorms when the updrafts and downdrafts keep bringing the stone high up in the cloud and back down. Each time the stone does this, it gets bigger and bigger until, eventually, the updraft can no longer lift the stone, and it will fall down to the surface.

The storm that impacted areas near Hueco Tanks had golf ball size hail – that means the updraft was pushing air vertically at or around 65 mph. The second storm that moved from the EP International Airport and southeast along the lower valley all the way to Tornillo produced hail as large as tennis balls, with an updraft strength of around 77 mph! The damage estimated from this storm is up to $150 million.

Number 5

In September 2014, floods impacted the Borderland due to moisture from Hurricane Odile in the East Pacific- it is number 5 on the list. The remaining tropical moisture from the hurricane made it all the way to the Borderland, where it flooded many areas. Deming, Santa Teresa, La Union, El Paso, Las Cruces, and more were impacted by the 2 to 5 inches that fell from the storm. There were 135 weather incidents and two water rescues done by the El Paso Fire Department during this event.

Number 4

Our next weather event occurred 35 years ago. In 1987, a whopping 22.4″ of snow fell at the El Paso International Airport. That storm blows any other snowstorm out of the picture…the next best snowstorm only let out 16.5″. Thus, it is number 4 on the top 10 list.

Number 3

Number 3 is another hail storm from 2016 that took place on November 4th. All across the Borderland, from near Deming to El Paso, saw large hailstones fall from various thunderstorms. In south-central El Paso county, 1-1.75 inch hail fell. In Las Cruces, 1.25″ hail fell from a thunderstorm, and halfway between Deming and Silver City, 2″ hail fell from a severe thunderstorm! This storm caused an estimated $200 million in damage. Wow!

Number 2

Getting close to the end now. Number two is the cold wave in February of 2011. At the beginning of the month, cold arctic air and blizzard conditions rocked the city. On Feb. 3, the low temperatures were near 0 degrees Fahrenheit across the Borderland. Power outages, as well as blackouts, plagued both El Paso and Las Cruces. Many were without power and some were without gas as well, meaning no heat. Locals are still able to recall the event and how it impacted them.

Number 1

Finally, the top event of them all. For locals, it has been fixed in memory for 16 years and will continue to be remembered for the years ahead. The August 1, 2006, extreme flooding event, otherwise known as Storm 2006. Three to 8 inches of rain fell in just one afternoon around the El Paso metro, which led to widespread flooding across the area, and mass destruction seen in homes, businesses, roads, and vehicles. One local told me about how the Blockbuster on Mesa and Thunderbird cracked down the middle into two pieces due to the rapid flooding. CDs and movies floated down the rapids they shared.

Rafael Delfin is the owner of Heaven Sent Florist, located across the street from where Blockbuster used to be. He shared what he remembers about the flood in a conversation with Meteorologist Katie Frazier.

Delfin: “We had snakes crawling up the trashcan bin.”

Frazier: “Snakes?”

Delfin:  “Rattlesnakes.”

Frazier: “Because they were drowning?”

Delfin: “Yes, they were coming down this water was about here,” he said, pointing at the ledge, which was about 2 feet high. “All this is new, all this wall, the truck that you see there, we had it back here. And all of that went down, the truck landed around here,” he said, pointing towards Mesa Street.

Frazier: “Oh, the truck floated down [the alleyway and onto Mesa Street]?”

Delfin: “Yeah. More or less, we ended up paying about $140,000, yeah.”

Frazier: “Just for the truck alone?”

Delfin: “Just the truck alone.”

For Delfin, the financial burden still impacts his store and family today. While he only had ankle-high water in his store (which, for others in the storm, may not be considered so bad), the water damage was not covered by insurance because it didn’t come from the ceiling, and instead came from outside. He had to remove the carpet that once was on the floor completely.

Paying for the truck has been difficult for his family, but he is glad to have his business still standing. Delfin’s story is just one of the thousands. ABC-7 photojournalists shared how they saw water damage shoulder-high in some homes and how some locals lost everything. Because of this, the 2006 flooding event is number one on the Borderland Top 10 Weather Events list.

Watch Katie Frazier’s Special Report “Top 10 Weather Events” Tuesday on ABC-7 at 10.

Do you agree with the number one pick? Which weather event would you pick? Vote now. We’ll announce which event received the most votes Tuesday, after Katie’s special report.